Sina Tech, 9/15/09
The "China Internet Video Anti-Piracy Alliance," a group comprising 110 internet video companies and rights holders, led by Sohu (Nasdaq: SOHU), Joy.cn, Voole, and Wasu TV & Communications Holdings, was announced in Beijing today.
The Alliance announced that it had begun collecting evidence against more than 1,000 suspected violators in China, including online video companies Youku, Tudou, and Xunlei, and that starting today it would begin to file lawsuits against 503 companies, including Youku. Pepsi and Coca Cola, both of which are accused of having placed advertising in unlicensed Youku videos, are also being sued by the alliance. A lawyer for the group said that suits would be filed over the coming year, with the alliance seeking compensation of RMB 50 mln to 100 mln from Youku, and reserving the right to take criminal action against individuals found responsible.
A spokesperson for Youku said that it had yet to receive notification of any lawsuit from the Alliance, adding that under Chinese law, advertisers would not be held responsible for the legal status of the videos in which they placed advertising. The spokesperson added that Youku reserves the right to take legal action to protect its reputation.
Editor's Note: As of September 12, Youku had 4.7 mln videos 30-minutes in length or longer and 4.4 mln 20-30 minutes in length, the majority of which are allegedly pirated material. Regarding the lawsuit against Youku by the Alliance, Youku responded today saying it approved of the Alliance’s stance and wished to join, adding that the website already hosts 50,000 licensed videos. Tudou.com responded by saying it hoped to settle the copyright dispute through profit sharing, purchases and partnerships. Tudou also revealed it currently has copyright sharing agreements with over 2,500 content providers. The Alliance has also drawn the attention of the National Copyright Administration of the People's Republic of China (NCAC).